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Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,127 ratings  ·  93 reviews
London, 1673. With her family ruined by war, penniless thirteen year old Sarah Jennings is overjoyed to be chosen as a maid of honor at the bawdy Restoration court of Charles II. She soon wins the trust of Lady Anne of York, a lonely princess who becomes one of her staunchest allies. And though Sarah's beauty stirs the desires of the jaded aristocrats, she wants a grander ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by New American Library (first published January 1st 2006)
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Mandy Moody
Duchess is the story of Sarah Churchill. It's based on her actual memiors and is pretty accurate, but still fascinating, which is always nice!
Sarah is an admirable woman - very ambitious and strong willed. I loved her story.
This is the second of Scotts books I've read, and I'm currently reading a third. I am very impressed by her writing! Her attention to detail and her fact-based character development is really a treat to read! Anyone that's dabbled in historical fiction should check out her w
Emery Lee
Much more of a political account than I expected.
It was interesting from a historical perspective but I could never warm to Sarah. I would, however, like to read more of John Churchill.

One other thing bothered me, given the extensive research that went into this novel, there was a major historical innacuracy in the author's note.

She writes that James Francis Edward Stuart had only one son, Charles Edward Stuart aka Bonnie Prince Charlie.

This is incorrect. He had a second surviving son by the sa
Amanda J
From Publishers Weekly:
"Sarah Jennings's ascent from poverty as a 13-year-old to the highest echelons of late 17th- and early 18th-century English society has all the trappings of supermarket tabloids: intrigue, treachery, deceit and sexual scandals. In this first-person telling, Scott takes a near-scholarly approach but maintains the thrills as Sarah and her equally ambitious husband, John Churchill, risk charges of treason (and thus, their necks) to ensure the crown for Anne Stuart. Sarah and
It was okay, interesting for the 'historical' aspect to see how the court ran and so forth. Didn't like the unnecessary sex scenes.
Sarah Churchill, the first Duchess of Marlborough, is a fascinating and important (though oft-forgotten) figure from England’s Stuart era. Duchess portrays Sarah’s rise from a low-born commoner to the most trusted adviser of a queen, after whose death she became the richest woman in England, due to her political and financial cunning. Together with her beloved husband, John Churchill, Sarah founded a long-standing legacy that has included Sir Winston Churchill and Diana Spencer, Princess of Wale ...more
Elis Madison
OK, I'm a geek for history. But many times, reading factual historical books is, well….


Not so here. This is a historical novel—meaning it's kind of a hybrid between the dry historical texts you'll find in university libraries and the wholly fictional (with varying amounts of "factoids" salted in for veritas) historical romance novel. While I give some HR authors (Monica McCarty, Jane Feather, Denise Domning, etc.) a great deal of credit for their historical research, historical novels (at
Rio (Lynne)
I've read many books about women striving to be the King's favorite. This book is about becoming the Queen's favorite. Sarah was a commoner, but earns herself a spot in King James II's household. Sarah and a young Anne become close as thieves and Anne only trusts and loves Sarah. Anne is shy while Sarah is beautiful, outgoing and cunningly smart. The author takes us through a passionate affair, dethroning of a King and ultimately Anne becoming Queen herself. John Churchill marries Sarah for love ...more
Usually, this is a book I would have liked a lot, but somehow, it just didn't grab me as much as I thought it would.

This novel tells the story of Sarah Churchill and her machinations to secure a position for herself and her family in 17th century English court. At first her actions were easily understood in the context of wanting something better for her children, but in the end her manoeuvering simply seemed to be cunning and distasteful. (Sarah Churchill was an ancestor of Sir Winston Churchil
Sarah Churchill was a fascinating woman and this book captures her spirit. What I loved about this book was the romance between Sarah and John Churchill and the glipse into English history during the reign of Charles II, William and Mary and Queen Anne. Sarah Churchill rose from poverty to power through a friendship with Queen Anne when they were both young girls. Also I discovered the fact through her daughter Anne's marriage into the Spencer family that Diana, princess of Wales, was a descende ...more
Sarah Churchill was a celebrity in her own right. Strong, intense, ambitious, loving, intelligent... basically all of the positive feminist terms can describe her outright. Scott intricately weaves Churchill's own memoirs with a penache for historical fiction. What does this mean? That you will not be able to put the book down.

Instead of the usual focus on sex and lost popular in the royal courts and novel covering such; Scott instead focuses on the ambitions and struggles of Sarah Churchill. T
Well written and most interesting! Sarah Churchill makes a very lively heroine and character. A smart, strong woman who could play "games" with the best of the aristocracy.This book whetted my appetite for more of Sarah.
This is a lesbian romance novel packaged as historical fiction. It could have been so much better.
Katherine Gypson
I was quite excited to read my first Susan Holloway Scott book since I've heard so many good things out there on other historical fiction blogs. Unfortunately, my expectations did not quite meet the reality of the book. As imagined by Scott, Sarah Jennings Churchill is an engaging and vibrant woman. We first see her in the midst of one of the greatest crises of her life before backtracking to her origins and her start as a maid at King Charles II's court.

Despite her constant desire for power and
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There are a lot of factors involved in how much I enjoy a book. Often my expectations play a big part in how I feel when I'm done reading. The subject matter of course plays a part and while the writing can be enjoyable and well researched if the protagonist is someone I don't care for that also influences my enjoyment, which is what happened for me with this story.

Susan Holloway Scott portrays Sarah Churchill as a bright, capable and strong young woman who manages to triumph in the face of repe
Duchess is the debut novel from historical fication author Susan Holloway Scott. Though I've already read one of Scott's other novels, I've kind of gone on a mission to read all of her books, even from the beginning. Though I typically don't read Restoration-era fiction, there are a few interesting ones out there I've read from the period and I trust that Scott won't let me down.

Duchess tells the story of Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlbrough. Born into a commoner family, young Sarah goes t
Elisha (lishie)
I really enjoyed this novel and felt like the writing influenced me like Sarah Churchill influenced Princess Anne... very effectively. Stories like this always make me really wonder- would it have been better to be poor or to live & breathe with the royals? So much sacrifice, all of the lies, the acting, the betrayal... And then the trysts. I was afraid this would be a "bodice ripper" but it was not so bad- the scenes seemed to be there for a reason. The death toll in this book is large, it ...more
Spanning Sarah Churchill's life, it follows her rise and close friendship with (eventual) queen Anne of England. Sarah is a fascinating and relatable character (although I did sometimes wonder how much of her emotional life was true). She's involved in politics, passionately in love with her husband (throughout the 30 years they spent together! Unfortunately, their moments are some of the least believable in the book), and emotional support and sometime lover to the queen (I really appreciated h ...more
Virginia Myers

I read this book for a book club. My over-riding question is “Why?”

Why would anyone think this book would be a good one for our book club to read and discuss. I began the book thinking I would enjoy it since historical fiction is my favorite type of book but I found it to be more like a dime store novel than a true attempt to provide readers with an interesting look at history.

As to measuring the quality of how the book was written, I guess it would be rather neutral. I cannot point out any gre
The novel is set in the late 1600's and the early 1700's, it is the story of Sarah Churchill and it is eloquently told in the first person. Unfortunately this is the 2nd novel that I've read of Susan Holloway Scott's and it lacked the passion and emotional connection of 'The Royal Harlot'. The novel is again set in the bawdy court of Charles II but Sarah is certainly not the normal 'Lady of the Bedchamber'. Through great personal risk Sarah helps to bring Princess Anne and her husband to the thr ...more
I finished this many months ago and apparently never left a review. I remember it to be a compelling drama about a proto-feminist woman of serious political clout in the royal court of late 18th-century England. In fact, the protagonist would do her descendant Winston Churchill proud! Only complaints: the depiction of her relationship with her husband had a juvenile, idyllic quality worthy of a dime-store romance; and I did not enjoy the descriptions of her sexual dalliances with the queen (who ...more
Cora Lee
4 and 1/2 stars! This book had been languishing in my TBR pile for at least a couple of years, and now I'm scolding myself for not having read it sooner. The writing was wonderful all the way around: technically sound, well-structured, and emotional in all the right places. The Stuart years in England have always been a little murky for me, but now I know which author to read to fill in the gaps of my education :-D
Usually Sarah Churchill is cast in the role of manipulative power hungry friend to poor Queen Anne. This however gives us a different interpretation of the friendship. Here the two women are both good and bad, both taking advantage of the other. Sarah is given the benefit of the doubt in some cases and written with a more modern accounting of personality of forceful woman. This was enjoyable reading of the history of these two women.
This is the story of John and Sarah Churchill from Sarah's point of view. It starts just before she joins the court and becomes companion to Princess Anne. It's along the same lines as The Boleyn Series by Phillipa Gregory - historical fiction with a strong basis in fact. I liked this novel because of its strong basis in fact and that the author doesn't shy away from showing some of the bad characteristics of its main characters. Sarah probably wasn't as sympathetic in real life as she came acro ...more
Okay...I just started this book and am only on Chapter 3. It may seem too early to review yet, but I couldn't wait and will update when I'm finished. The pace is a wee bit slow right now. BUT the writing is AMAZING, not necessarily lyrical, but poetic. Wonderful description and unique sensory detail. Some of the best I've read since Margaret Atwood. Looking forward to the rest of this story!

Update: I finished this story (once I had time to focus on it) in about 2 days. It's a good read. The pac
Very fascinating read into the life of the highly ambitious Sarah Churchill. This book often kept me at the edge of my seats for its political intrigue and betrayal. Finished this book in 2 days, a new record!
Victoria Vane
Much more of a political account than I expected.
It was interesting from a historical perspective but I could never warm to Sarah. I would, however, like to read more of John Churchill.

One other thing bothered me, given the extensive research that went into this novel, there was a major historical innacuracy in the author's note.

She writes that James Francis Edward Stuart had only one son, Charles Edward Stuart aka Bonnie Prince Charlie.

This is incorrect. He had a second surviving son by the sa
Sarah Wagner
A fascinating story of Sarah Jennings, who rose from obscurity to be one of the wealthiest duchesses in England and took an important role in history. Through her marriage to John Churchill, a talented soldier who became the first Duke of Marlborough, and her friendship with the future Queen Anne, Sarah occupied an important place in the political power structure of late seventeenth-century England. However, she could also push too far and I felt that the deterioration of her relationship with A ...more
Danielle Reily
I love historical fiction, but I normally read about Tudor history. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, it makes me want to read more about the time period.
This novel sticks to the facts known about the Sarah Churchill for the most part; it does assume a lesbian relationship with Queen Anne. The book is a fast read and a kind look at a woman quite unpopular in her own day. The book does emphasize her long relationship with John Churchill as a marriage for love, very unusual in its day. Sarah Churchill comes across as aggressively ambitious, politically savvy with an unusual head for business, one who navigated the intrigue of the English court and ...more
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Aka Miranda Jarrett
Aka Isabella Bradford

Susan Holloway Scott is the author of over forty historical novels and novellas. Writing under her own name as well as Miranda Jarrett, her bestselling books have received numerous awards and honors. With more than three million copies of her books in print, she has been published in nineteen foreign countries around the world. Her most recent historical nov
More about Susan Holloway Scott...
Royal Harlot: A Novel of the Countess Castlemaine and King Charles II The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II The King's Favorite: A Novel of Nell Gwyn and King Charles II The French Mistress: A Novel of the Duchess of Portsmouth and King Charles II

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